“This really should be the standard and will be the standard for any good kitchen,” says Craig Kuhlmann, General Manager of Alchemi and Johnny’s Speakeasy. Both restaurants just received Silver Level certification in The PLEDGE™ on Food Waste, showcasing their commitment to food waste reduction.
The PLEDGE™ is a global certification program tackling food waste by motivating food service businesses to monitor and reduce waste, generate buy-in with employees and customers, and establish new standards of excellence that are linked with sustainability. The program includes 95 criteria around planning, implementation, and capacity building so that food waste prevention strategies can be adopted for the long term.
Alongside Alchemi and Johnny’s Speakeasy in Royal Oak, three dining halls managed by Chartwells at Oakland University in Auburn Hills (Gold Level), Sylvan Table in Sylvan Lake (Silver Level), and Folk (Bronze Level) in Detroit also have received certifications. These seven food businesses are the first in the US to be certified by the The PLEDGE™
Make Food Not Waste brought the international program to Southeast Michigan with financial support from US EPA Region 5.
“We brought The PLEDGE™ to Detroit because the program takes a preventative approach to food waste,” said Danielle Todd, Executive Director of Make Food Not Waste. “If you want to see the greatest impact on your bottom line and the environment, you have to focus on preventing food waste from happening in the first place.”
As a result of taking The PLEDGE™, each business has realized financial and environmental benefits. All seven sites are no longer sending any food to landfills. One restaurant saw a 4% drop in food costs. Another repurposed previously unused trimmings into a new appetizer that generated $6k in the first quarter. All sites reported a dramatic increase in employee engagement, demonstrating that staff members are highly receptive to incorporating new sustainability practices.
Beyond the numbers, The PLEDGE™ has helped shift attitudes about what’s possible. “By learning about The PLEDGE™ and participating, it’s helped us to set some stretch goals for all aspects of the university,” says Brian Bierley, Director of Media Relations at Oakland Univeristy. “It’s brought great pride to the whole staff and students.”